Economists were early critics of the design of the Eurozone, though many of their warnings went unheeded. This column discusses some fundamental design flaws, and how they have contributed to recent crises. National booms and busts lead to large external imbalances, and without individual lenders of last resort – national central banks – these cycles lead some members to experience liquidity crises that degenerated into solvency crises. One credible solution to these design failures is the formation of a political union, however member states are unlikely to find this appealing.
Paul De Grauwe, 07 September 2015
Hiroshi Yoshikawa, Hideaki Aoyama, Yoshi Fujiwara, Hiroshi Iyetomi, 05 September 2015
Deflation is a threat to the macroeconomy. Japan had suffered from deflation for more than a decade, and now, Europe is facing it. To combat deflation under the zero interest bound, the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank have resorted to quantitative easing, or increasing the money supply. This column explores its effectiveness, through the application of novel methods to distinguish signals from noises.
Carin van der Cruijsen, David-Jan Jansen, Jakob de Haan, 23 August 2015
Central banks have typically targeted their communication at financial markets. Increasingly, however, many have started actively communicating with the general public. Using Dutch survey data, this column finds that the public’s knowledge of monetary policy objectives is far from perfect, and varies widely across respondents. Those with a greater understanding of ECB objectives tend to form more realistic inflation expectations. Central banks seeking to target the general public must take account of discrepancies in households’ knowledge of and interest in monetary policy.
Stefano Neri, Stefano Siviero, 15 August 2015
EZ inflation has been falling steadily since early 2013, turning negative in late 2014. This column surveys a host of recent research from Banca d’Italia that examined the drivers of this fall, its macroeconomic effects, and ECB responses. Aggregate demand and oil prices played key roles in the drop, which has consistently ‘surprised’ market-based expectations. Towards the end of 2014 the risk of the ECB de-anchoring inflation expectations from the definition of price stability became material.
Ashoka Mody, Guntram Wolff, 13 August 2015
The ECB believes that most Eurozone banks are out of the woods in terms of non-performing assets and capital shortfalls. This column argues that small and medium-sized banks – and among them the unlisted banks – remain under considerable stress. These banks are in the worst affected Eurozone countries, and their continued stress significantly impedes the flow of credit and also reduces lending. Policymakers need to seriously consider how and when to restructure and resolve these banks.
Fabio Ghironi, 18 July 2015
Success of the German-inspired solution for the latest Greek crisis is far from assured. If it fails, the Eurozone may be changed forever. This column argues that the failure would lead to an outcome that has been favoured for decades by Germany’s Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble. Perhaps the package the Eurozone agreed is just a backdoor way of getting to the ‘variable geometry’ and monetary unification for the core that the Maastricht criteria had failed to achieve.
Stefano Micossi, 17 July 2015
The ECB’s monetary policy has evolved rapidly over the past decade – from the adoption of the euro to the recent implementation of quantitative easing. This column discusses the effectiveness of the ECB’s policies. The single currency induced pro-cyclicality in the Eurozone periphery. The failure to adequately respond to the Lehman failure placed the burden to stabilise financial markets in the Eurozone onto the ECB, which as a consequence has become the lender of last resort in Eurozone sovereign debt markets. And finally, the persistent deflation and depression convinced the ECB to adopt an expansionary monetary stance.
Paul De Grauwe, Yuemei Ji, 16 July 2015
When the ECB buys a Eurozone member’s bonds, the government pays interest to the ECB but the ECB rebates it to the government. If Greece repays its ECB-held bonds, it loses this ‘free borrowing’. This column argues that repayment is like ‘reverse QE’. To maintain its QE targets, more bonds from other EZ members must be bought – thus shifting the free borrowing from Greece to other EZ members. To avoid this perverse outcome, the ECB could extend the maturity of the Greek bonds.
Jeffrey Gordon, Georg Ringe, 17 July 2015
The Greek Crisis is a crisis rather than a problem due to the vulnerability of Greek banks. While the banks have deep problems, this column argues that these would have been mitigated if a fully operational banking union were in place. A full banking union requires joint banking supervision, joint bank resolution, and joint deposit insurance. The EZ only has the first so far. Completing the banking union must be part of any long-term solution.
Thorsten Beck, 15 July 2015
Monday’s deal was a political compromise consistent with the political constraints of Greece and its creditors. It is doubtful, however, that it will provide a long-term solution to Greece’s economic crisis. At a minimum, the momentum should be used to eliminate the option of Grexit once and for all. The bank-sovereign ties should be cut to turn Greek banks from a source of crises into a growth-supporting sector.
Charles Wyplosz, 14 July 2015
The new bailout deal for Greece was not easy. This column argues that it was also a failure. It will not be enough to recapitalise banks, it asks for structural reform that exceeds Greek capacities, and it raises the Greek debt-to-GDP ratio to unsustainable levels. In a few months or quarters, the programme will fail and the Grexit question will flare up again.
Julian Schumacher, Beatrice Weder di Mauro, 12 July 2015
The sustainability of Greek debt is central to the negotiations. To date the sustainability calculations have been based on the IMF’s standard models for calculating sustainability for countries with market access. This column argues that these are not appropriate for Greece – a middle-income country with highly concessionary financing. The ESM should develop a new, appropriate analytic tool to reflect Greece’s special situation.
Olivier Blanchard, 10 July 2015
The Greek crisis is in a critical phase. This column, by the IMF’s Chief Economist, reflects on the various critiques of the handling to date of Greece’s problems.
Francesco Caselli, Camille Landais, Christopher Pissarides , Silvana Tenreyro, Wouter den Haan, 09 July 2015
Greek exit from the Eurozone has uncertain and potentially dangerous implications for all involved. This column, signed by 25 LSE economists, urges the Greek government and its creditors to act more responsibly. The first priority is to get Greece on a path of sustainable growth by relaxing austerity in the near term and linking debt restructuring to essential structural improvements.
Carmen Reinhart, 09 July 2015
Contrary to the intent of the designers of what was to be an irreversible currency union, Greece may well exit the Eurozone. This column argues that default does not inevitably trigger the introduction of a new currency (or the re-activation of an old one). However, if ‘de-euroisation’ is the end game, then a forcible (or compulsory) currency conversion is likely to be a central part of that process, along with more broad-based capital controls.
Paul De Grauwe, 03 July 2015
Greece’s debt is 180% of GDP, which seems to make it insolvent without large primary surpluses. This column argues that since restructuring lowered the interest burden to just 2% of GDP, Greece is solvent – or would be with nominal GDP growth of just 2%. The ECB’s misdiagnosis has caused an unnecessary banking crisis. The solution is to accept that Greek debt is sustainable, so the austerity programme can be relaxed and liquidity support provided to the Greek banking sector.
Barry Eichengreen, 01 July 2015
Barry Eichengreen’s VoxEU column arguing that the euro was irreversible has been viewed over 230,000 times. Now it appears to be wrong. In this column, originally posted on the website ‘The Conversation’, he looks to see where his predictions went wrong. Basically the economic analysis – which focused on bank runs – was right. He went wrong in overestimating the political competence of Greece and its creditors.
Domingo Cavallo, 30 June 2015
Grexit and the reintroduction of the drachma would have severe consequences for the Greek people. This column argues, based on Argentina's experience, that this would produce a sharp devaluation of the drachma, inflation, and a severe reduction in real wages and pensions. The effects would be far worse than the reductions that could have occurred as a consequence of the policies proposed by the Troika. By resuming negotiations, continuing with measures to achieve fiscal consolidation and carrying out adequate structural reforms, Greece could reverse the current situation in a sustainable way. It has the great advantage that the ECB, most European governments and the IMF are willing to resume negotiations.
Charles Wyplosz, 29 June 2015
This weekend’s dramatic events saw the ECB capping emergency assistance to Greece. This column argues that the ECB’s decision is the last of a long string of ECB mistakes in this crisis. Beyond triggering Greece’s Eurozone exit – thus revoking the euro’s irrevocability – it has shattered Eurozone governance and brought the politicisation of the ECB to new heights. Bound to follow are chaos in Greece and agitation of financial markets – both with unknown consequences.
Harald Benink, Harry Huizinga, 16 May 2015
QE in the Eurozone is unusual in that the risks of sovereign debt defaults are shared between the ECB and the national central banks. This column argues that if such risk sharing were applied to the Outright Monetary Transactions programme, it could potentially create insolvency problems for countries with large public debts, especially in a low-growth scenario.